How Agile development helps build better products

Part of our How to Make Your Idea Work Better, While Spending Less of Your Budget Series.

Providing you with:

  • Key indicators that your project could benefit from Agile Methods

  • An understanding of Agile

  • How Agile creates better quality products with reduced risks


The problem with good ideas

You’ve got an idea. Maybe it’s for an app, a website or another piece of interesting software.  You have a passion and conviction about it; you know it will work.  You just need to find the right people to help you bring it to life.

However, in the past, when you’ve tried to develop big pieces of software you’ve had some bad experiences.  Maybe you’ve had unresponsive suppliers who’ve not delivered on their promises?  Or you’ve relied on heavy specifications and too much upfront planning and documentation that’s made it hard to make changes later on.  Or what was initially a dream vision has become progressively more and more complicated and problematic; deadlines keep being missed, and costs and timescales escalate.

If this is you then you’re not alone.

If this isn’t you then you sure as hell want to make sure you avoid these experiences.

The problem behind these kind of bad experiences is usually an undisciplined approach to product development and a lack of clearly defined roles, responsibilities and targets. This creates unnecessary problems, elongates decision making processes and means you end up having to choose between quality and speed.  Often you end up with neither.


The solution: Agile

The solution is to use Agile development processes.   Developed by software pro- grammers as an alternative to more traditional regimented frameworks, Agile is a structured yet flexible, rigorous yet interactive approach to software development.  It avoids heavy upfront documentation in favour of iterative determination of what your product needs, coupled with close collaboration and careful planning during each phase of work.   It acknowledges the value in processes, tools, documentation, contracts and planning. However it values individuals, interactions, working software, collaboration and responding to change more.

Agile’s Values

“Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan”

The Agile Manifesto, Feb 2001

At White October our priority is it to satisfy you as the customer through early and continuous delivery of value-loaded software.

Using Agile we build a complete working version of your product’s core features in a matter of weeks. We then follow a cyclical process of testing and building, refining and improving your product, adding features in priority order.

As we learn alongside you we expect and welcome changing requirements; Agile enables us to harness changes in order to make your product more valuable and competitive.

“Agile methods offer a radical solution to building good software”

Steve Denning,


How Agile uses collaboration to give you more control

Traditional approaches rely on a client-supplier arrangement and advance contract negotiation. Instead of doing the same, Agile treats customers as part of a single cross-functional team. You stay involved during the development process, often on a daily basis, taking informed decisions on priorities and exercising increased and more informed control of your product’s scope and budget.

Agile Development Diagram.jpg

Often clients come to us with lots of ideas for features, but don’t know the best way to prioritise or develop them. Using Agile we solve this problem by bringing our designers and developers into regular close contact with your team. The proximity of discussion and dialogue enables more tech solutions to be brought forward and more skills to be leveraged across the whole team. This leads to stronger decisions and a better end product built around its most valuable features


How Agile uses testing and prioritisation to help you steer your product

Agile gives everyone clear roles, responsibilities and targets that revolve around phases of work called Sprints.  Each Sprint is used to create a whole product, which is then tested before it’s refined and improved during the next Sprint.  Working in this way provides continuous opportunities to assess a project’s direction of development and make sure it’s on the right track to creating a high quality product.

Because testing starts earlier in the product’s development lifecycle it becomes easier to make informed changes to your product in between Sprints.  Decision making processes are clearer and easier to follow, making it easier for you to prioritise and reprioritise your product user’s needs.

Changes are then deployed through continual prioritisation and re-prioritisation of requirements during the next Sprint.  This reduces the risk of development mistakes and deferred deadlines, and makes your product less likely to creep out of scope, especially if multiple partners are involved in its commissioning.

This means that when you decide that your product has developed as far as you (and your budget) want, it will contain only its most valuable features.


Summary: Why Agile gives you a better product

  • It reduces mistakes and missed deadlines

  • It creates clear processes for improving your product

  • It makes it easier for you to be involved in your product’s development

  • It focusses on quality of core features over breadth of less important features

  • It gives you the flexibility to adapt to changes in the marketplace and your understanding of it

White October can help you save money while developing your idea.


One Comment

  1. Alex Money
    Posted 1 May 2014 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    As a recent client, I found this piece very helpful. It gives me context on aspects that I hadn’t fully appreciated. Thanks. Alex

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